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Monday, August 17, 2015

Optics Watch: Martinez Trumps Senators In Animas Spill; Prompts Pondering Of A Martinez-Heinrich Contest, Plus: "Ugly" Attack On Rep. Maez As Her Son Faces Murder Rap, And More Valentino Vs. Moya 

2018?
In what the kids like to call the "optics department," it appears Gov. Martinez was the winner when it comes to the toxic mine spill into the Animus River in the Four Corners. She was quickly at the scene and dominating media coverage. She went back for a second visit and showed the heavily Republican area the spill was being taken seriously in Santa Fe. She did not put herself out front much with the national media--confining herself to the friendly confines of Fox News--thus avoiding any mistakes that her handlers are always fearful of and that could reset her national image.

On the optics downside were Dem environmental Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. Heinrich finally made a belated visit to the stricken area late last week. Udall remained a no-show.

Obviously, the Senators did not want to join Martinez in her sometimes over-the-top bashing of the EPA but staying away from the scene of a story that was making worldwide headlines was dropping the optics ball big time. At least that's what the kids tell us and one of the Alligators:

Well, the Guv's machine loves the dynamics of this story. The EPA screwed up and they can blame a natural disaster on the Dems. Plus, Martinez got to the site before them. The environment is Heinrich's #1 issue and they like that there's nothing he can do in the immediate sense to help out. So they will beat Heinrich over the head with it for a while and feel they are weakening him (and Udall).

There is concern about Heinrich in Democratic circles. We hear the worry warts repeatedly reference Gov. Martinez as a possible Republican challenger to Heinrich in '18 when he would make his first re-election bid.

Likely or unlikely, the talk of Martinez challenging Heinrich comes at a time when the freshman Senator appears more vulnerable. His longtime chief of staff is leaving for another job and there was that mini-scandal over Henrich using office funds to pay for personal travel expenses.

No sitting US Senator has been defeated in NM since Jeff Bingaman defeated Republican Jack Schmitt in 1982. But the Democratic Party has never been so flaccid and weak.
The Guv's political machine has steamrolled through the state with little opposition. So why not keep rolling and make a play on Heinrich? It would be a whale of a national contest with Martinez drawing millions from outside the state as well as Heinrich.

Leave it to longtime photographer Mark Bralley to fuel the fire by sending us that pic posted here today of Heinrich and Susana together announcing steps taken to resolve the problem of jet fuel from Kirtland Air Force Base leaking into surrounding ground water. Martinez seems happier than Heinrich--and for now with good reason.

VALENTINO VS. MOYA

Valentino
New ABQ public schools superintendent Luis Valentino, like many APS supers before him, is simply not experienced in the ways of La Politica, and he could be headed for a bad ending like those supers before him.

Electronic messages now reveal Valentino appears to have been trying to wire an APS contract for a firm that may be ethically challenged and doing so with the full knowledge of state education secretary Skandera. APS chief financial officer Don Moya challenged the deal and that's when Valentino made his ill-fated move to take Moya out by putting him on administrative leave. That's backfired and Moya is looking like the hero and Valentino a bumbling and cowed superintendent in full service to the Governor's Machine.

Valentino could right his ship by apologizing to Moya and bringing him back from the administrative leave he placed him on. Otherwise, we may see Moya in court demanding
compensation.

It's too early to say Valentino's APS tenure is already on the death watch, but he's bleeding badly and we're about to see the stuff he's made of as he tries to untangle the web he weaved for Moya but now finds himself trapped in. Welcome to La Politica, Mr. Superintendent.

GETTING PERSONAL

Rep. Maez & son
ABQ Democratic State Rep. Stephanie Maez is in a world of a hurt after her son, 18 year old Donovan Maez,
was arrested on murder charges in connection with the tragic slaying of 17 year old Jayden Chavez-Silver. Because of the crime the freshman ABQ lawmaker could be doubtful for an election bid next year. Maez was appointed by the Dem-controlled BernCo Commission to fill the seat of former Rep. Mimi Stewart who resigned her seat when she won election in '14 to the state senate.

GOP County Commissioner Wayne Johnson is a conservative who voted against the Maez appointment and the partisan divide remains. But this Johnson statement about Maez's troubles was called downright ugly by several readers:

Chavez-Silver
I think it's fair to question the ability and judgment of an elected official to make laws that affect the safety and welfare of New Mexico children and families, when their personal life is in such obvious disarray.

Was that really necessary? The damage done to Maez is obvious. Why not keep your vindictive joy to yourself? And is the commissioner, who is childless, inviting the media to examine his personal life so it can be compared to Maez's? Do you really want to go there, Wayne?

And then there was this shoddy piece of journalism from KOB-TV. They put an anonymous woman on the air (showing only her hands) who basically charged Maez with being an unfit mother and claiming she had in the past given shelter to Maez's son. You mean you get to indict public officials on TV news now without having to show your own face or without offering any proof of what you are saying? Well, the Machine's tentacles do reach deep into that newsroom. Don't they, Tom?

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